(b. 1477, Castelfranco, d. 1510, Venezia)

Madonna and Child Enthroned between St Francis and St Liberalis

c. 1505
Oil on panel, 200 x 152 cm
Duomo, Castelfranco Veneto

The altar-piece, called the Castelfranco Madonna, was in all probability commissioned by the Condottiere Tuzio Costanzo in memory of his son Matteo, who died in 1504: the Costanzo coat of arms can be seen on the base of the Virgin's throne. It can almost certainly be dated to 1505. Although it is not signed, the authorship is made indisputable by Giorgione's individual technique in laying on delicately shaded coats of paint without any underlying scaffolding from a drawing. The traditional scheme of composition is lightened by the novel use of such elements as the throne and the landscape, which takes up a good portion of the background.

This smallish altarpiece echoes the artistic approach developed by Giovanni Bellini, who was probably one of Giorgione's teachers. Giorgione softens both the atmosphere surrounding the figures and that in the space before the viewer. This atmospheric veil has a palpable analogy with the methods of Leonardo da Vinci, who was known to have been in Venice in 1500 and it is possible that Giorgione had seen some works by the Florentine genius. Yet the figural proportions and the lacy landscape speak to a fully personal Giorgionesque idiom.